Something in the Rain (2018) -- Thoughts about the ending
This was a show that I had watched and dropped after 5 episodes. After ending its run locally and on Netflix, I thought... well... I have a Netflix subscription... I might as well see how it ends. I was also quite aware of the online clamour regarding the ending and its prelude so that piqued my curiosity.
I can't say I was all that surprised by Episode 15. It seemed to me a long time in coming. What surprised me wasn't that the couple broke off their rocky relationship but that they managed to hold it together as long as they did considering the shaky foundations from which they began. Jin-A, who was the main reason why I dropped the show, was more or less in the same place mentally that she was in Episode 5. Certainly she'd gotten bolder on the work front but in the area that probably mattered most to her, she was still riddled with indecision. In that regard I think the show was extraordinarily consistent and realistic in how the romance resulted. In fact, I would go so far as to say that if it had ended in Episode 15, it would have worked just as well. Or something akin to a La La Land type ending. The ending of 15 was exactly right. It wasn't just a lack of communication which tore the couple apart... ultimately it was a lack of honesty. Not of the cheating kind but the weight of unspoken frustrations finally causing the relationship to collapse. Even though Jin-A made the decision to move out of home, she was still trapped in the same mental state of wanting to keep everyone happy. In reality of course nobody was happy, herself included. Moving out of home wasn't about freedom for her but a kind of "no-man's land" in a war zone that she was ill-equipped to fight. It was a place she'd hope to navigate the rough seas of placating her family on some level while still trying to maintain her relationship with Jun Hui.
The beginning of their relationship resembled, it seemed to me, an intense secret love affair -- a socially forbidden relationship that took place in secrecy in its early stages. Fearing family disapproval, they lied about the true nature of their relationship to their nearest and dearest. Because they had put the cart before the horse, the foundation for their relationship was essentially quite weak because they leapt into not prepared to deal with the whirlwind that would follow. Passions came first and they went along with that but in the end for a fundamentally socially conservative girl like Jin-A, she was ill-equipped to deal the pressures that came her way and the ramifications that the relationship would have on her family. I saw the writing on the wall even before Episode 5. There was plenty of heat in that relationship but the lack of honesty it seemed to me demonstrated a clear reluctance to take a strong stand on the underlying issues. I always felt that JA enjoyed the pleasures of the relationship without wanting to deal the negatives. Would JA and JH have the wherewithal to conduct their relationship openly? Did JA especially have the will to make that decisive break necessarily for the relationship to move to the next stage and even flourish? In the end, they were 2 people mugged by reality. JA is a family oriented, daddy's girl at heart. Her affair with JH was something out of her comfort zone. True to form, her first instinct is to compromise. The terms of engagement were framed as a zero-sum game and in the end she chose the familiar and the family over starting afresh with JH overseas because the foundations there ran much, much deeper. I believe they both understood (in varying degrees) after all the pressures placed on them, what it would take to keep their relationship together but JA just couldn't cross their bridge.
I was mostly in agreement with JH unilaterally making the decision to take off overseas to start again if for no other reason to prove to himself where JA's priorities really lie. It was a test of the strength of their commitment to the relationship and I think it had to come to that because they were going nowhere with JA trying to maintain the status quo. The conversation they had in her flat when he gets back from China is quite telling. "Isn't that like running away?" is what she says. His answer is "I would like to think of it more as breaking free."
Another striking thing is how JA half-jokingly tells people she's just soldiering on and it demonstrates strength of character to double-down and persevere. In most instances I wouldn't disagree but with JA, it's a cover for not dealing with her inner angst or the rumblings of her heart. It's part of her mechanism to side step the issues. She can't be honest with others because she can't be honest with herself for fear of what others think about her. JA is a nice girl but her niceness seems to mean that she doesn't have to make a stand and it sees her reverting to her default position of sweeping things under the carpet
JH is a lot clearer and bolder. He wants honesty. He was right in that they had unfinished business. I thought it was fascinating how his comment to her that she's mean triggered a strong reaction in her. All the misery she'd been bottling up exploded in an instant. Though she tried to palm some of the blame onto JH, she had made her choice and she had lived with its consequences. He did respect her choice to stay after all. In the end, she made the choice to move out station because she realises that she can't be tethered to the familiar as her own growth and happiness is on the line.
I'm glad she comes to that place first before getting back with JH because it would mean repeating the mistakes of the past. She can't just be her parents' daughter or the woman JH loves. Her conversation with BR at the Jeju restaurant was the most honest I'd heard from her.
It's an interesting journey that the writer takes JA on. Although she was a character I had trouble relating to, I could see the consistency in her choices and in how she dealt with unpleasant situations. It became clear to me at the end why the actress took on this role. She did a good job with the role and portrayed her misery and servility effectively while maintaining a stiff upper lip.